Three Questions: Wings-Predators
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 76th game
It only took 20 seconds for the game to take a drastic turn in momentum. The Wings were dominating, but at the midway point of the third period, a few bad bounces turned the game in the Predators’ favor. At the 11:35 mark, Preds forward Joel Ward fired in a rebound to beat goalie Chris Osgood to tie the game at 2-2. Twenty seconds later, center Jerred Smithson converted on a Nashville opportunity after a turnover, and scored his fourth of the season to give the Predators the 3-2 lead.
The Wings fought back, with Johan Franzen scoring his 32nd goal of the season after taking a pass from Pavel Datsyuk along the Nashville blue line. Franzen beat rookie goalie Pekka Rinne with a quick wrist shot from just inside the blue line. But defenseman Ryan Suter blasted a slapshot past Osgood with just under five minutes remaining, and the Wings couldn’t manage another game-tying goal.
What was the goal of the night?
I’m going with the Wings’ first goal of the night, which came on the penalty kill. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom got the ball rolling when he took a pass from Niklas Kronwall in the Detroit zone. Lidstrom wound up for a slap shot, as if to ice the puck, but instead fired a pass right onto Henrik Zetterberg’s stick. Catching the pass in stride at the Nashville blue line, he broke in behind the Predators’ defense, and burned Rinne with a deke to the backhand.
The goal marked two milestones for Zetterberg. The Wings’ forward picked up his 30th goal of the season, which means that he has scored at least 30 in four straight seasons. It was also his 400th career point, which is an impressive achievement for the forward who just signed a 12-year contract.
Who was the player of the game?
Lidstrom had a great game Sunday night. Along with setting up Zetterberg’s goal, Lidstrom picked up the secondary assist on the Wings’ second goal, which featured Mikael Samuelsson firing in a one-timer on a pass from Datsyuk. With Brian Rafalski not dressing, Lidstrom played for 26:01, eating up 2:26 worth of penalty-kill time.